Losing your job from a corporate restructure, downsizing, company closing, lay off or even being fired, all are very stressful situations and many people often lose sanity, motivation and structure of the day to day routine.
But life doesn’t stop once you are out of a job. You still have to pay rent and utility bills, eat healthy, fuel your car, pay your student loans etcc. Unemployment is a tough phase which you cannot just wish away, but you have to step up and fight it.
With this in mind, to stay productive while you are searching for the new job, there are some strategies for how to make the most of your transition time.
1.Start a Self-Assessment
Start with some self-reflection and whether you got laid off or you decided to leave on your own accord, there’s one very important question to ask yourself at the end of it: How did it come to this? This is the time to be honest with yourself. It’s extremely important to understand what went wrong and how to fix it.
Then look into your personality traits, skills and talents, interests, and work values. Determine your “personal brand”, which is a summary of important, unchanging attributes, such as work ethic, leadership, honesty, or creativity.
Keep always in mind that when you get a new job, you have a clean slate, and can turn what used to be a negative part of your reputation around. If you used to be messy often, make it a point to be more organized. If you were a little grumpy before, be more friendly. You can reinvent yourself at any point in your life, but when you switch jobs it is the easiest time to do it.
In addition to this try to define your “personal mission statement”, and remain focused on it during the job search.
2. Keep a Regular Sleep/Wake Schedule
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help you stay productive and will also regulate your mood. Set an alarm Monday through Friday, and go to bed early enough to get a full night’s sleep so you are well-rested and ready to do your best in the morning.
When you have a whole day to yourself it can seem like you have all the time in the world, but this time goes by quickly. Having a plan for each day can help you make the most of your working hours and help prevent feelings of self-recrimination at the end of the day.
A regulated sleep/wake pattern may reduce the risk of depression or be part of a treatment strategy. Eating healthy and phisical exercising at the same time each day can help, too.
3. Set Daily and Weekly Goals
As you begin your “new job,” it is important to set daily and weekly goals for yourself. You want to make sure you have a sense of accomplishment each and every day on your job search.
This will keep you moving forward in a positive direction. Whether it be the number of jobs you apply to on any given day, the number of individuals you reach out to in your personal and professional network, or the number of companies you research in a week, write down these goals on a piece of paper and make sure you check them off each time you accomplish one.
Setting goals toward anything you do in life brings you that much closer to success, even in a job search.
4. Keep Learning and Take Care of Yourself
If you’re wondering what to do when unemployed beyond looking for a job, try learning something new. Whether through a seminar, an online class, or a community college, use the time to learn a new skill. So, challenge yourself to try something new.
Always wanted to learn how to code? How about SEO, speechwriting, or the mechanics of launching a startup? This is your big opportunity to learn and grow.
This is also a transitional period, and it helps to approach it with a positive mindset. It feels like an obstacle, but it’s actually an opportunity to do something meaningful. Don’t forget to spend more time with your friends and loved ones while you have the availability.
5. Consider Temporary Work or Freelancing
Don’t like that resume gap? Make it disappear by adding temporary projects or freelancing to your work record. It’s a great way to make money while unemployed, which can go a long way towards making you feel better.
When looking at temporary opportunities as what to do when unemployed, choose something that makes good use of your existing professional skills. You will find yourself more in demand, as hiring managers want to minimize the learning curve on short-term assignments. The projects that are a good fit for your skillset will also make logical sense on your career timeline.
Freelancing has been made easier by online platforms that serve as a marketplace for project-based work. There are many benefits to freelancing, including flexibility, a chance to choose the projects that get you excited, and an opportunity to shape your personal brand. Because the projects usually start out small, you can enjoy a boost of dopamine from the easy gigs you score, which helps you keep up your motivation when the progress on your main job search is stalling.
6. Do Volunteer Work
Volunteer work can help keep your thoughts positive, your skills sharp, and experience current. When it comes down to the pure practicality of it, giving away work for free can seem like a less-than-ideal option, especially if you’ve been unemployed for a while.
However, the benefits to giving your time to a worthy cause can mean a healthier mindset and a more marketable you in the long run.
7. Set Up Informational Interviews
People love talking about themselves so give someone in an organization you want to work for that opportunity. Scour company websites and LinkedIn for people you want to connect with and send them an email inviting them out for coffee. Let them know that their position intrigues you and you want to learn more about what they do. Although it may not result in a job offer, it’s a great networking opportunity and gives you a chance to new careers you never even knew existed.
8. Get Off Your Computer
These days, much of the job hunt is done on the computer via job boards, social media and email. Resist the temptation to spend all your time online, and get out there and network. Call up old colleagues for coffee, attend networking groups and go to industry conferences. You never know what these meetings could lead to, and getting out helps keep you connected to the real world.
9. Build a Strong Network
Of all the advice you may ever receive, this may be the most vital tool to use in searching for your next opportunity. Networking offers you a foot in the door to companies or positions that may normally be hard to access.
Network with family & friends, everyone knows someone, and their best friend may just be the hiring manager at the company you’ve been eager to work for.
Attend formal networking events such as local business associations or seminars. Be friendly and introduce yourself. Keep a few extra copies of your resume handy, you never know when you’ll meet the right person or your next hiring manager.
Most importantly, network on social media. Create a strong LinkedIn profile. Reach out to former colleagues, follow and connect with companies that you’re interested in working for. Participate in group discussions and it will help you maintain that all-important “social connection” we need as humans. Not only will you improve your networking skills, you keep your brain stimulated in a business-focused environment.
Market also your skill set on Facebook and Twitter as well and stay connected every way you can.
10. Start Blogging or Vlogging
Stay also productive by publishing online. A blog devoted to your career and specialist area will showcase your knowledge and authority in a way that your LinkedIn profile or resume will not.
An authoritative blog built up over the years will clearly show that you are a subject matter expert. It is also likely to lead to connections and a stronger network that will help to avoid unemployment altogether.
If you don’t want to start a blog, make some funny YouTube videos, take some photographs, write an eBook or even just keep a daily journal about your day. Creating content will keep your creative juices flowing and will give you the ability to speak intelligently about your own thoughts and about what you really are and want.
Originally published at medium.com